One of my 23 year old grad school classmates recently told me that I looked good for my age.
I’ve been receiving this “compliment” more and more lately. It’s a comment that immediately points to the fact that the person was expecting that by “your age” one might look haggardly or scoundrel-like. Well…surprise, surprise 🙂
What’s so interesting is that I clearly remember being 23 and feeling as if 29 and 30 were light years away. I imagined that by 30, I would “look 30”. I never thought much about what “looking 30” meant, I just felt that because it was SO far away I would have to reason that I would look different.
When I think back to how I perceived age in my late teens and early twenties, I can say that my definition of what age would look like, was directly correlated to my expectation of what a certain age would bring….and why wouldn’t it be that way? That is the way it had always worked…when I was 14, I knew what 16 would look like because I would finally be driving; when I was 16 I knew what 18 would look like because I would be on my way to Hampton; and when I was 19 I knew what 21 would look like because I would have the freedom to order myself a cocktail, and the excitement of graduating from college and going into the real-world to make a way for myself.
If you have tangible milestones attached to specific ages (as we do when we are younger) then it is easy to perceive age by the expectation of achieving that milestone. However, once we get into the real world – nothing is written – age doesn’t look like anything; age becomes what we make it.
It’s absolutely amazing how we spend our early years wanting to speed up time in order to reach 16, 18, and 21 – only to reach our mid-20’s and realize that we’d like to pump the breaks. It’s not that we are looking to go back in time – but I think we suddenly realize that instead of reaching the next age, or finding the next thing, we should figure out ways to soak up the ‘here and now’.
DS Download: Until we start seeing the physical effects of age on our faces or in our bodies, I believe that our definition of age should be about managing our expectations, and negotiating an agreement between ourselves and the universe (or your god) a set of principles about who we are, and what we’re going to work to be in this lifetime.
….all of that lofty speak aside – I am marveling at the small changes that my friends and I have been noticing in our 29 – going on 30 year old bodies…all of a sudden after two drinks we feel that the third may put us into frank the tank mode (or is that just me?), or require a full day of recovery time; we’ve elected to listen to NPR or WTOP over the local R&B stations; we’re ordering egg-white omelets, and choosing turkey bacon over pork sausage links to protect our health. Goodness! Perhaps our 30’s will also be about being more conscious of all of our decisions.
They say that youth is wasted on the young but I don’t believe that. I distinctly remember being young and living the hell out of life. I don’t remember me or my friends wasting anything. Youth is merely a description of being young, it is not wasted, it is a given – unless we have the mysterious case of Benjamin Button, we will all start off being young.
My focus nowadays is not so much on youthfulness, but on working everyday to be grateful…grateful that I had my youth to explore and learn who I was, and grateful that I have my adult years to spend time perfecting and learning who I am supposed to be.